Response to Criticism of Our Serotonin Paper

This article by Joanna Moncrieff and Mark Horowitz has been published by Mad in America. It begins:

“We recently published a paper finding that the serotonin hypothesis of depression (the idea that depression is caused by low serotonin or reduced serotonin activity) is not supported by scientific studies that have been conducted over the last few decades. The serotonin hypothesis was communicated to the public as the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression. In surveys, 85 to 90% of people in western countries report believing that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.

We suggest that the idea that depression is caused by low serotonin or a chemical imbalance should no longer be communicated to patients as it is not supported by research.

This also brings into question what antidepressants are doing: if they are not correcting an underlying chemical problem, as people are often told (‘like insulin for diabetes’), then other ways of understanding what they are doing, such as providing hope (the placebo effect) or numbing emotions (a common report by patients) may be more accurate descriptions.

Psychiatrists in Britain, some of them with career-long relationships with the pharmaceutical industry, responded to our paper’s findings and its implications here, which were then reported in several media pieces covering our paper. We would like to respond to these criticisms …”

You can read more from here.

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